illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile looking across a cityscape with a magnifying glass in the distance and a speckled band visible through the glass

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Find the AFOREST persuasive language in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.”

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Elements of persuasive writing that Arthur Conan Doyle uses in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” include alliteration, fact, opinion, and repetition. These are elements covered by the acronym AFOREST, which stands for Alliteration, Fact, Opinion, Repetition or Rhetorical question, Emotion, Statistics, and Three. The story does not include statistics.

Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Conan Doyle uses it in the f sounds in these sentences:

her face all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and figure ...

This usage factors into persuasive writing because it helps the author convince the reader that the woman is very scared.

Fact and opinion are featured in numerous places in the story. Taken together, these two are important components of persuasive writing because they support Dr. Watson’s claims that Sherlock Holmes is a skilled detective. Holmes makes observations about what he sees; these are facts. He then draws conclusions based on these observations; these conclusions are his opinions. An early example of fact and opinion used together is provided by Holmes’s assessment of the female visitor, Helen Stoner. One factual element, which Holmes notices, is that she holds part of a ticket in her hand. His deduction, while entirely logical, is an opinion. He opines that she had traveled to London by train.

The author also uses repetition early in the story, in the clause “it is” that begins several sentences that the female visitor speaks. This use of repetition further supports the use of alliteration mentioned above in persuading the reader of Helen’s extreme fear.

“It is not cold which makes me shiver,” said the woman ....

“It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.”

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